How to Help During A Seizure
The most important thing you can do when you see a seizure take place is help the person as needed.
There are many different types of seizures and the type of seizure a person is having will determine how you can help.
For Complex Partial Seizures:
- Recognize Common Symptoms of a seizure which include:
- Blank Staring
- Fumbling with clothes
- Wandering aimlessly
- Confused Speech – Not being able to directly answer your questions or talk.
- Provide First Aid in the following ways:
- Time the seizure – You only need to call an ambulance in most cases if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, or another seizure quickly starts after the first one stops. Also time how long it takes for the person to recover and return to their usual activities. Most seizures usually last between 30 – 90 seconds.
- Speak calmly to the person. They may not be able to respond. Just observe while the seizure takes place.
- Do not grab or hold on to the person – let them move around as needed during the seizure.
- Explain to others that the person is having a seizure.
- Encourage them to move away as waking up to a crowd of people can be embarrassing for the person having the seizure.
- Block any hazards – stop people from walking by them. If they are near stairs or a street and are walking, move them away.
- Wait with them until they are fully conscious and aware. Make sure they know the date, where they are and where they are going next. Confusion may last longer than the actual seizure and may be hazardous. Call for medical assistance if full awareness does not return.
How you respond to the seizure will model how others will respond to it. If you remain calm, then others around you will as well.
As the person comes out of the seizure, they may feel confused or embarrassed about what happened. Let them know they just had a seizure and they are safe. Offer to stay with them until they are ready to resume their normal activities.
For Tonic Clonic Seizures (Grand Mal):
There are actually two parts to this type of seizure – the Tonic Phase and the Clonic Phase.
During this type of seizure
- the person’s body will stiffen and they lose consciousness, which will cause them to fall to the ground.
- Their eyes will roll back into their head as their muscles contract and their back arches.
- It may become harder for them to breathe.
- Their lips and face may turn blue.
- Then they will begin to make gargling noises.
- Next the Clonic Phase begins and their muscles start to jerk repeatedly.
- As the jerking stops, people having this type of seizure commonly let out a deep sigh, after which their normal breathing continues.
- Once the seizure stops, they may still remain unconscious as their body goes through the postictal stage of the seizure. Their body may be sore and they may feel very tired or confused.
Provide Aid in the following ways:
- Remain calm – you remaining calm helps others that witness the seizure remain calm as well.
- Help them lie down if they feel a warning sensation (aura) that a seizure is about to take place. Some people know ahead of time, others do not.
- Time the seizure.
- Check for an epilepsy or seizure ID bracelet.
- Remove any dangerous objects around them. Chairs, tables, anything sharp could hurt them during the seizure.
- Turn the person on his side – this will help unblock their airway.
- Cushion their head – put something soft underneath it.
- Stay with them until the seizure ends.
- Do not put anything in their mouth. Swallowing their tongue is not possible. If you do put something in their mouth, you could hurt the person having the seizure.
- Do not hold them down. This could hurt the person as well.
- Incontinence or injury could occur. They have no control over their bladder during a seizure, so please be understanding.
- After the seizure, they may experience what is called the postictal stage of the seizure. During this time, they may feel confused, agitated, or exhausted. They may have to go to sleep for an extended period of time for their body to recover.
- They also may not remember what happened during the seizure.